2020 The Fleur-de-lis Trail and Fortress Louisbourg

The King's Bastion
Fortress Louisbourg

Frédéric Gate
Fortress Louisbourg
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia
Caroline enjoyed our first trip together to Cape Breton Island's Meat Cove along the Cabot Trail so much that she was determined we would visit again the following weekend, but she was in desperate need of a new rear tire for her Honda Shadow, so we shelved the idea until a new Shinko 777 had been fitted last week by Centennial Honda in Charlottetown. If you recall, I was pretty much in exactly the same boat the week prior to our first run on the Trail! I really wanted her to see Fortress Louisbourg that we had to skip that first run, so I asked Caroline if she would be good for a long day in the saddle. Long for us... :)


The Grand Plan: 1320 kilometres over three days

2020 Fleur-de-lis Trail and Fortress Louisbourg - https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1tyG8lV5wOoijRgVFZd7FBlmmF5lheIXZ&usp=sharing

Day 1 - Charlottetown PE to Mira River Prov. Park NS - Drive 553 km, 7 hours

Charlottetown PE to Mira River Prov. Park NS
On our trip of the 17th of July, just two weeks ago, the weather was quite a bit different with lower day time temperatures, and cool nights. So much so, that I even bought myself a toque at Lick A Chick in Bra d'Or as I'd been cold sitting around the picnic table. Well that wasn't going to have a repeat on this weekend! No sir! I packed along a comfortable toque that would cover my ears, and a Costco down jacket that is light enough to stuff into a sac about the size of a large coconut. Well, perhaps a huge coconut, really. Would you believe a small loaf of steamed bread that had been made in a coffee can? A medium sized coffee can?  I got to Caroline's place a bit late actually, and she decided that she wasn't going to sit around in gear waiting for me, so in my reply to "running late" she asked me to meet her at the CIBC over near Bulk Barn on University. I was almost thirty minutes later than I had wanted to be, and it didn't set the right tone for our trip at all, but there you have it. The bike had been fully loaded the night before, but I was rusty at getting up at 0520 and it took longer than I expected to shower and get those last minute details sorted before hopping onto my bike, then finding out that the construction was going to hold me up. 

The forecast for the weekend and the skies we rode under promised that it would not be a dry day, with only a forty percent chance of staying dry, and I was very happy to see some blue sky ahead of us over the mainland! 

The Bridge to the mainland. 
This time Caroline had us apply for our "Travel Registration" with the province of New Brunswick a  few days ahead of time, so we both were approved as we headed to the lineup on this side of the strait, not knowing what to expect as the last time we were here it had been a thirty minute wait... 

Bienvenue au Nouveau-Brunswick,
mais pas encore tout à fait
Welcome to New Brunswick, but not quite yet
There is so little traffic on a Friday morning at 0730, that we were stopped at the off ramp and asked if we had been pre-approved? As we were both able to say yes, this bored officer was able to give us both a "Welcome to New Brunswick" and waved us quickly on our way!

How long do you intend to stay in New Brunswick?
"How long is it to Tidnish Bridge?"
We like to run out through Murray Corner NB on NB 955, then cut through Little Shemogue and on into Port Elgin where we thought to follow the Sunrise Trail as far at Pictou NS. Man, I was hungry, and I'd been up since 0530, so I was very happy when my offer to buy breakfast and a coffee in Pugwash NS at Sheryl's Bakery & Cafe. They did a great job of outside seating with picnic tables and their patio, so we were able to join the few already seated, but nicely distanced apart, the new normal. Wearing my mask inside the store while I ordered, not so normal, or comfortable for me, but it's mandatory in Nova Scotia while indoors now. A nice bit o breakfast and coffee, but I'd really like to sample some of their sweets next go round, and I'm quite happy that I've finally stopped in as I've been riding right on past that spot for at least a couple of years now. You get to sit and look out over the inner the Pugwash River and Basin over at Nova Scotia's only salt mine on the opposite shore, open since 1959.

We jumped back onto Route 6 NS and made good time along the coast, but was somewhat surprised to see a larger number of runners and walkers along the side of the road, but then both of us realized that we'd never been down this road at this early a time of day, so maybe not so much an increase as an increased awareness? :)

Any port in a storm, or a nice day. How do they decide who gets the chimney perch?
Wallace NS
Photo Credit: Caroline
Caroline was quite taken by this view of seagulls in Wallace NS, and had us do a U-turn to go back for a few snaps.

Once in Pictou, we opted to head south off of NS 6 onto the Trans Canada 106 until it joined up with the Trans Canada 104 that we would follow all the way into Port Hawksbury on Cape Breton Island itself.

Loading up with aggregates
Is this bound for PEI?
There is almost always some activity at the aggregate quarry at Porcupine Mountain. Years ago I'd briefly chatted with some Americans that were on their way to the quarry with some new chemicals that would replace much of the explosive used at the site. Have you ever had to stop on the causeway and wait for the blast to occur underneath the blanket of used rubber tires all chained together to prevent shrapnel from blocking the road or injuring motorists? I have once long ago. The yank told me that they would still need to drill the same hole, but instead of a contained explosion, this material, when poured into the hole, would expand with great force, pushing the rock apart and causing it to calve off similar to an ice berg, with only the danger of a landslide that could be locally predicted and "controlled" rather than the burst that would impede traffic and raise the insurance rates for the quarry owners. What a brilliant concept! I think about that chat every time I ride this causeway.

Welcome to Cape Breton! 
Once into Port Hawkesbury just before noon, we followed my Garmin GPS blindly looking for the road North East to St Peters where i wanted to hook up with the coastal road that is the Fleur-de-lis trail, that kept us on Route 104 Trans Canada, until it turns into plain old Route 4 NS which means it winds it's way through towns and villages on it's way north.

This ride the plan was to keep our costs down, and as we had been spending almost $50 for two at lunch the last trip, we knew that wasn't sustainable if we wanted to fully enjoy our summer, so We had done more prep to bring lunchables. Battery Provincial Park  was Caroline's answer to where should we stop for lunch, and we made our way to the water's edge where there were a few picnic tables spaced appropriately. To say it was warm would be an understatement, and for the first time this summer I used my sun block to protect my neck face and ears while sitting in the sun while we enjoyed a light meal of hard boiled eggs, crackers and some of Founders Delicatessen's lovely garlic sausage made locally on Prince Edward Island by our friend Brad.

Battery Provincial Park, St. Peters NS
The park and canal are based where the early French explorers used to portage from the Atlantic Ocean to the Bra d'Or lakes, and later on the British built and the completed the canal in 1869, still in use today. There is an excellent article by Dale Dunlop of the Maritime Explorer relating the varied history of the area in "St Peters Canal & Battery Point Park – Part of Cape Breton History"  I think we are going to have to return for some more exploration of the area, and perhaps an overnight camp.
Taking time out to enjoy a meal and the scenery
Looking out on St. Peters Bay NS
Photo Credit: Caroline
We met a young four month old dog Bailey who simply loved the beach, and he amused us both with all his digging. I was allowed to share a few pieces of my sausage with him, for which he was required to sit. There no such thing as a free lunch. We told his owner about my sister Wendy-Sue's new project, Custom Console Covers by Wendy & Alex for just such an occasion as sandy beach dog standing on the seat console. lol. I've been there and still have the upholstery cleaner! Wendy and Alex are making elasticized covers that snap on over your console, then pop off to go straight into the wash. Do we get a commission on these Wendy-Sue? ;)

Just on the outskirts of St Peters there is a fork that allows you to hit the Southern end of Route 247 "South" that actually runs East out to the coast, then hooks up with the St Peters - Fourchu road in Grand River, but the sun was now so bright that I was having real difficulty seeing the face of the GPS, and while I started down the road, that "South" bit of the NS 247 got to me, and I dreaded back tracking off our path. I pulled back into the parking lot beside Caroline and she sat patiently (as patiently as could be expected wearing hot leather from head to toe) as I tried to find out which way to go. In the end I opted to head to the information booth to beg a tourist map of Nova Scotia off of them, but it was firmly closed due to the SICK, and in the end I opted to continue the trek further north along Route 4 NS. At least it would get us to Sydney!

I should have followed the red arrows down the Route 247 South to Point Michaud! 
We made Soldier's Cove NS and I figured that we were well north enough now to head for the coast and make Framboise as expected, and the road signs were bearing that out to be true. Wow, what a fun little rip along the Soldiers Cove Road! The sad part is that it's badly in need of some repairs, and Caroline and I had to slow down and pick our way quite carefully along it's length. The photos are of the GOOD parts of the road where I felt safe to operate my camera.

Caroline takes point
Soldier's Cove Road headed East to Grand River NS
It was fun, but a dual sport with 8" of suspension travel would have been alot nicer than a cruiser and a sport utility bike SUB fully overloaded for touring.

And it's now official! In Grand River the road improves from horrible to nasty and Caroline and I are back on the Fleur-de-lis trail again! Whoot!

The bridge over The Grand River

Riverside Confectionery
Groceries Hardware
Fishing Supplies
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
It's sad to see heritage buildings like this fall into disuse and disrepair, but I enjoy capturing them on film and adding them to the blog as local character.

The St Peters - Fourchu road! 

Where is Caroline and here Canon Rebel when you need her (the telephoto lens, that is). I made her wait for me on the St Peters Forchu road up ahead while I snapped this one of the derelict buildings.
You have to look hard to see these old buildings.

It needs some work
Caroline was telling me about gravel on the road, but it was the road itself, coming apart and being displaced by the vehicles that still use this road. Again, parts of it are worse, and I'd certainly think twice before taking a sport bike down this road, but I'm not your mother. Go for it! Dial that suspension up for hard cornering. ;)

Caroline had stopped up ahead to snap a "helmet on" picture as she has perfected the technique of using her screen as opposed to the viewfinder to take photos, so she was pleased that she could cut down on the "stop and go" time with her camera, as was I.

Saint Esprit Lake, Nova Scotia
Having a decent camera and lens set up makes a difference. Below is the same shot I snapped with my iPhone 6s

This is my iPhone
Okay, further up the road a ways Caroline spotted a wee inlet from the road that was picture perfect, and as this meant we needed to do a u-turn in a bad spot, I went up the road to ensure it was clear in this direction, then used a bit of what I thought was sand and gravel to complete my turn. Nope! A skiff of mud left over from the rain clouds that had passed this way earlier today I expect, as we were chasing some some cooler and darker clouds up ahead. That cool air was so nice, and of course we were now right on the coast again, with what looked like some fog moving in. Focus Ronnie! As soon as my tires left the road, I went into a two wheel slide, and my old friend and riding mentor Rick Francis would have been proud for all I did was roll on a touch of throttle, that got the front aimed true, only to have the rear wow out in a fishtale. I got it back quickly, but loaded down with all the luggage, it was not a dirt bike, but a behemoth with sport tires that just slicked up with mud and spun! So I hope to have a review of the Shinko Raven 009s that I mounted a few weeks ago now that I've got some dry and wet mileage on them. They do NOT perform well in mud. Lol.

It don't look like much, but I may need a change of clothing. :P

St Espirit Lake
St Peters - Fourchu road
Grand River NS

I kept telling Caroline we were getting close to the part of the road where I'd taken just a glorious shot of fog, sunshine and marsh, that she wanted to stop and get a photo there, but sadly there was quite a bit more fog than we were expecting, but she contributed this to the pot.

The view from the Fourchu road, NS
Photo Credit: Caroline

Later on down the road, we saw a few fishing vessels in the village of Fourchu, and once I'd seen the name of one of the boats, I laughed and asked Caroline to wait for me while I went back for these.

Hardys Cove
Fourchu NS

Seas the Day
Hardys Cove, Fourchu NS
We crossed the Mira River on the Marion Bridge via the Gabarus Highway, NS 327 that is in much nicer shape than the preceding roads, although nowhere near as scenic. (I made a wee mistake here that made us do a wee bit of back tracking) At Marion Bridge I should have taken Hillside road instead of heading "Hey diddle diddle, Straight up the middle!" on the 327. Hillside follows the Mira River and would have taken us directly to Albert Bridge and the Mira River Provincial Park that we were aiming for as our end of day campground. Oops! I bet you they didn't have Quinns fresh strawberries in the gas station at Albert Bridge!

Mmmm! Caroline made me stop eating
long enough to get this photo before we enjoyed them all! 
On this path we ended up right in the heart of Sydney Nova Scotia, and I pulled us off the path into a church parking lot into a wee patch of shade to have a peek at where we needed to go to end the day at the Mira River campground. Right, back onto the road only to stop just to the East on George Street NS 22 just before the highway overpass at the Needs convenience store in order to carry out our "6 o'clock Charlie" prior to heading in to the campsite.
  • Stop and refuel before they roll up the sidewalks and close everything
  • Get four litres of water for supper and breakfast
  • Buy some dessert for the night's meal (chocolate bars keep Caroline and I pleased)
  • Milk for my tea in the morning. :)

Caroline refuelled while I dashed in for supplies ( they hand out plastic shopping bags!!! Teeheehee!) then joined her at the pumps on the opposite side of the street, complete with a pint of some beautiful strawberries in my top box.

Ron fills the Versys with the good stuff
Caper Gas
Sydney NS
Photo Credit: Caroline
We made the short run down NS Highway 22 into Albert Bridge and made the turn North up Brickyard Road that would take us to the park administration building, that were clearly manned this Natal Day long weekend (The Nova Scotian holiday that celebrates the birth of Halifax Dartmouth, since 1895) but Caroline was determined to follow the advice in the booth out front and order a spot online while I tried to stake out a wee patch of ground in the shade and waited as patiently as I could for her to secure us a spot armed only with her wits and cellphone, a potent combination indeed.

It wasn't long and we were on our way to find our campsite, but not before I had another brief touring tires on mud scare where by avoiding the speed bumps I'd opted to ride through a largeish puddle by the side of the road that nearly put my rear end in front of us! Once I got that sorted, I opted to just do a u-turn to get back to the one way entrance to our loop as opposed to tour the entire Park and see the sights first. I think I was tired, hot and needed to sort out my sugar levels PDQ.

We got the tents set up first, Caroline even wore her boots for that bit, and we set up two tents this time, my older Alps Lynx 2 person tent that I've used since 2012 and the Chaos 3 that I bought last year to share with Caroline, but we could use a four person tent as it gets a bit crowded when we both try to bring in our jackets and helmets. Fortunately Caroline is shorter than I, so I can store my clothing at her feet, and my helmet and electronics bag at my head which leaves a bit of room to thrash about. The second tent was part of our new strategy as Caroline is having trouble sleeping in close proximity to my snoring which has gotten worse as I put on some weight after quitting smoking and then while the whole lockdown COVID thing was going on. Anyhow, the theory is that she can gain some distance and sleep in the Lynx and get a full eight hours rest instead of waiting for me to get up at O Dark Thirty as we used to say back in the army, and then putting in her ear plugs and going back to sleep for as long as possible while I puttered about the camp, unable to pack my own gear in the tent, so relegated to making breakfast as quietly as possible. We were having some real issues hitting the road before ten in the morning, and that was cutting into our travel time quite a bit!

Cross your fingers and hope this works, as setting up two tents at the end of a long day is a PITA that hopefully will be worth it for Caroline.

Site 102
Mira River Provincial Park
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia

Supper wasn't meant to be, and we were quite content with simply dividing the contents of the basket between ourselves, and happily glutting ourselves on some of the best strawberries I've had since supper with Esther, Caroline's mother who makes the most wonderful desserts with local strawberries and her wonderful cooking skills. I dreamed of strawberry shortcake with fresh whipped cream, but that is going to have to wait until next year, I suspect. Caroline contributed more snow peas, and with the chocolate bars and a nice cuppa decaf tea, Caroline was able to persuade a satiated riding partner to leave his bike behind and actually walk along holding her hand as we explored a bit of the park, or at least our side of it that borders on MacLellans West Bay of the Mira River.


We struck out in a mostly Easterly direction, and came across the St. Joseph Catholic Cemetery that is now a part of the Park, and walked further along the shore of the bay, to find a wee parkette along the bank of the river.
St. Joseph's Catholic Cemetery 
We sat on one of the three benches provided "In Memorium" in the park, and Caroline walked around and read each plaque while I took some more photos of the sunset reflecting on the clouds over MacLellans Bay along the Mira River.

Sunset over Sadie's Well, Mira River Provincial Park, 
Cape Breton Island, Nova Scotia
Sadly I was unable to find any information about the well at all.

Sadie's Well

It's a bit dark.
It was a beautiful moment for us, and there may have been a bit of hand holding and a kiss or two before we headed back up into the park.

Caroline was interested in the schedule for the showers, as due to COVID many campgrounds are limiting the number of washrooms, then further limiting the hours that they are available. Can you imagine not being able to have a shower until after 0930, then joining a queue where only one family at a time is allowed to use it, then at 1200 it is closed until 1400 when it gets closed again later that evening? I think the time was 1700 or 1800 but I may be mistaken. Those hours meant that a shower was basically a unicorn for us as we were hoping to be at the front gates of Fortress Louisbourg when it opened tomorrow at 0930. They even shut down one of two outhouses next to our campsite! I suppose it means less to sanitize, but really!? Turn a blind eye and I'll pee in the woods where I am socially distanced. ;)

We drifted off together in the tent, then Caroline had some trouble sleeping and made some mention of the camper at the tent site next to us "bracketing me with a snoring duet", so she abandoned me and went off to sleep in the smaller tent. 

See you in the morning!

Day 2 - Mira River Prov. Park NS to Fortress Louisbourg, then Meat Cove NS - Drive 271 km, 3 hours, 44 minutes

Mira River Prov. Park NS to Fortress Louisbourg, then Meat Cove NS
I was up around 0500 and on the move while Caroline slept on, and by the time I could hear her up and moving, I had finished my oatmeal and tea, and was just starting on packing away my sleeping gear quietly. She made her breakfast of coffee while I finished packing my gear, and we then got the tents down and away and were on our way in plenty of time to arrive at the Fortress for opening. 
Heritage Cemetery seen from Kennington Cove Road
Heritage Cemetery seen from Kennington Cove Road
Photo Credit: Caroline

Our goal today was a visit to site of the Fortress of Louisbourg that had been settled by French fishermen in the 17th century, in fact Louisbourg harbour's first permanent settlement was built in 1629 by Lord Ochiltree, a Scot, who built a fort at Baleine just north of the present Fortress site, but did not last a year. It wasn't until the treaty of Utrecht in 1713 that the town of Havre à l'Anglois (Haven at the English?) was recognized as a French possession in the New World.

Construction of a walled fortress town that was to become more than a simple cod drying town, began in the reign of King Louis the 14th, and subsequently bore his name. Vessels crossing the Atlantic would touch at Louisbourg Harbour before sailing on to Quebec City, Boston, Ile St. Jean, or other French settlements in North America. It was subsequently besieged by the British and captured twice, in 1745 and then again in 1758.

The Government of Canada began a reconstruction of the site back in the sixties and seventies to provide jobs for out of work coal miners, using many of the original stones of the original fortress, and today approximately one quarter of the town has been rebuilt. 

It's only a short run east on highway 22 from our campground and it takes you one way straight out into the town of Louisbourg itself. 

I drew Caroline's attention to the thick brush that borders both sides of the highway, and asked her to  imagine French traders and trappers trying to actually walk or ride a horse through any of that! It's incredibly thick scrub that would defy someone trying to navigate their way through it as effectively today as it would have three hundred years ago. Now you understand why towns such as these are all located at a coastal port or on a navigable river, for if you want to see modern goods manufactured in Europe, you are going to have to head to a town that has an active port. 

The Fortress Louisbourg site was chosen because the inner harbour did not freeze over. Quite simply put, it meant that shipping and commerce could continue year round while the fishing, trapping and forestry industries may have been on hold. The English chose Halifax for the same reason, a well protected harbour that doesn't freeze.

A wood cut engraving made for the London Magazine upon the successful siege and capture of the Fortress by the British.
I'm going to admit now that while doing some research for this section of the trip, I thought to share with you a few "neato" facts and figures, but as I delved deeper into what the internet has to offer regarding this settlement, I found more and more information on the site and it's storied past. I think it worth keeping an open mind when discussing Canada's heritage and history.

Fortress Louisbourg
As seen from the
Photo Credit: Caroline
Louisbourg as seen from the direction of the Royal Battery
Photo Credit: Caroline

Classic cars visit the site as well

The reconstruction as seen from the south east approach

The COVID-19 response seems to have been to bypass the Welcome centre in Lot 2 and those shuttle buses in favour of a long and winding gravel road that follows part of the coast from the Kennington Cove road out to the fortress itself where there are a few gravel parking lots set up for staff and visitors. We were directed to a parking spot less than four hundred meters from the building they had repurposed as the "park entrance" where families were waiting in small groups, two metres apart from the next waiting family. We engaged one of the guides in conversation while waiting to be admitted and pay our fee, and enjoyed learning more about the site. 

waiting for our spot

The Map
The reconstructed site and Parks Canada Map of same. And because the web master can't be relied upon to preserve the link, here is a wee map of the grounds.

The Map Legend

Hey! Google Street View has mapped Fortress Louisbourg so you can walk the streets and see it all for yourself!

Caroline went in to pay our admission, and i couldn't help but admire the joinery of the benches placed for the use of the park guests. Mortise and tenon joinery that has been around for 7,000 years of recorded history, and only lately replaced with sawdust and glue. I thought my father, Emerson, would love to see these, in fact, it brought to mind our Father's Day adventures at Black Creek Pioneer Village of years ago.

Mortise and tenon
These are sturdy benches and will no doubt be around for some time, but it also shows the temporary nature of the New World, as in Europe, many towns would have benches of stone in public streets that still exist today!

This is how COVID-19 precautions are affecting our visit today.

Masks use is mandatory while inside the structures
or when it is not possible to to maintain the two meter distance

We found later on that the casement stones of the first window on the left,
 the two bottom courses are original and were recovered in the dig.
Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

He was allowed to remove his mask while outdoors,
and I also asked him to block the COVID sign with his body
Caroline asked him to put his mask back on and uncover the sign.

Photo Credit: Caroline

I know the purpose of many old artifacts, but I've not come across something like this before. At the time I supposed that it was used to hold warm water, and underneath perhaps a candle was inserted to keep the water hot while dinner was served? Do you know what this is?
Is this a candle powered hot water sconce for the dining room? 
We entered another doorway to find that we had come upon an exhibit containing the possessions described in the estate of the Marie Marguerite Rose, a Guinea born French slave (wikipedia calls her a "Canadian" slave, but that is not correct as Canada had not been formed until Confederation in 1867.) formerly owned by Jean Chrysostome Loppinot, a French naval officer posted in Louisbourg. It is interesting to note that King Louis the 10th had outlawed slavery in the Kingdom of France in 1315, and Louis the 14th established the Code Noir in 1685 to define the conditions of slavery in the French colonial empire, which permitted slavery. In my personal opinion it all boils down to money. The sugar cane plantations made their owners massive profits that resulted in tax and tariff revenue, and working the cane was a brutal job that most white men failed at as they were so suspect to the local fevers, Yellow Jack, Malaria etc that would kill them in droves. Keeping that cash flowing into their coffers meant subjecting others to slavery and brutal working conditions to turn a profit. Keep in mind that to the ancient Romans, skin colour didn't matter a darn, and any conquered race was fair game to enter the slave market. We don't have a very good track record as a human race, no matter what the skin colour.

Marie Marguerite Rose
In 1757, her second year of freedom, she died. She was buried at the Fortress of Louisbourg. At her death an inventory was taken. "She had an extensive collection of used clothing and a pair of half-made woollen stockings. Her other possessions were balls of handmade soap, an iron, supplies for dyeing clothes, six pounds of sugar and a cookbook," despite her inability to read.

Every room of significance would have a fireplace. 

Caroline thinks this might have contained holy water

The Modern World and COVID-19

Making lavender for the ladies
Wash? No one washed in this day and age except possibly some enlightened nobles, so ladies would use lavender and other items to carry so they could raise it to their nose to camouflage particularly offensive odours. Chamber pots might get dumped into a privy, but if the contents were liquid, might get fired out into the streets to wash away into the sewers and out into the harbour. We were told that we should walk in the centre of the street, and only yield that to people above our station when necessary.

We found that all the glass came in the same size and shape. Approximately 8 x 8 squares that had all been manufactured by Manufacture Royale de Glace, a company formed in 1665 that still exists today, and in fact, the reconstruction features glass made by the same company that provided the originals!

Apparently the glass was shipped from France to Louisbourg by means of barrels, and it prevent breakage they would fill the barrels with molasses. The soldiers of the garrison, the lowest class of settler in the colony would fight over the job of unloading newly arrived shipments of the glass. Somehow I have a hard time imaging that a relatively expensive Caribbean product would be shipped out to the new world in such quantities merely to protect glass. I've found references to church stained glass being shipped in barrels of molasses and that makes much more sense, as to commission stained glass represents a huge investment worth protecting, but plain glass?! I doubt it.

Each piece is imperfect and unique!

Some of the buildings had stables attached to them for the wealthier occupants, and I think this fireplace might have been the accommodation for the stable hands. I expect that the horses might have needed some of that heat as well to survive Ile Royale winters.

A fireplace in the stables
I love the containers of the time period, and I'm sad to say that I used to laugh out loud when people would describe a classroom as "Basket Weaving 101" for I've seen baskets used as essential building tools and even turned into coracles (tiny personal boats). The examples here at the Fortress caught my eye and I wondered if this basket cage was for birds, fish or game.

Hip basket for moving grain and oats? 

This was the family that owned Marie Marguerite Rose mentioned earlier

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline
 The Frederic Gate, named for a former administrator of the Fortress.
Photo Credit: Caroline

The plaque on the Frederic Gate of Louisbourg
Photo Credit: Caroline
The inscription on the plaque is in Latin and translates to:

Louis XV, King of France and Navarre,after Louisbourg has been built
and well fortified,
Has ordered that this Primary Gate of the City
Be built and equipped
in the year 1740.

An iron neck collar. Was this a place of public punishment?

The King's storehouse
I heard one visitor refer to this as the powder magazine, and had to choke back a laugh. Never would powder be stored above ground in quantity, as it needs to be stored in constant temperatures to prevent the condensate cycle from rendering the powder useless, so varying hot and cold cycles would not treat stored powder well at all, nor would anyone want a fireplace any where near the powder! Ever. On the naval vessels of the time those in charge of powder were even required to wear list slippers in place of their hobnailed boots and shoots to prevent sparks, and only a sealed lantern was allowed in proximity to the open barrels of powder. In a Fortress of this size, the powder magazines were co-located with the batteries themselves, and I believe there were five or more that were deeply made under the ground of the fortress. You would not want an enemy to be able to destroy your source of powder and defensive ability with a stray shot over the walls.

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline

Photo Credit: Caroline
So I had heard that you could camp at the Fortress, but that it was cancelled due to the COVID-19 which is why we had stayed at Mira River Provincial Park last night. It turns out that you can camp at the Fortress, but you do so by paying $75 for the dubious privilege of staying in a reconstruction of a canvas tent. (Painted with blanco to maintain both the colour and waterproof qualities no doubt, although some of the holes had been clearly patched with duct tape. lol) My parents had given us kids a canvas tent as a play tent that went up in the backyard and with us on longer camping trips, and I clearly recall that hot canvas smell to this day. I also remember the lack of a floor, and the pinholes that would allow water to trickle in, then bead up and drop to the floor during a rain, and if you weren't on high ground, the water running or pooling inside your tent. Apparently Caroline had to experience all of this, and was chagrined to find out that I'd been wrong and that the camping in the Fortress HAD in fact been possible. Sorry honey. We will come back and dress like period peons and cook over an open fire. :D

Photo Credit: Caroline

It had been almost five hours since my breakfast, and I was in need of something to keep going, so Caroline and I stopped for some Cinnamon rolls offered by one of the modern cafes concealed within the fortress, but on the way there we ran into Max L., one of the very knowledgeable park employees that held us spellbound with his anecdotes and facts of the site, in fact his wife was a native of the town itself. Max was so enjoyable to listen to, that we had a hard time pealing ourselves away to attend to my low blood sugar. :)

Thanks Max!  
The shortbread cookie was  must and I even let Caroline have the red maraschino cherry on top, but the Cinnamon rolls were the stars of this snack! Wonderful! The filling was almost a mince rather than just the usual sprinkled cinnamon and sugar, and it was a rather nice little touch to have the labels on the bottom bare a handwritten list of the ingredients.

We had a brave little guest that would have loved some of the rolls, but sadly he was a bit too late. 

Not impressed with our hospitality,
he left us to try his luck at another table

Can you pick out the original casement stones that were excavated on the site? 

Portraying the one of about 560 average soldiers 

Frédéric Gate
Fortress Louisbourg
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia
Photo Credit Caroline
The Frédéric Gate
This ornate arch was the main entry for most of the people, news and merchandise who came to the colony via the harbourfront quays. The gate’s name honours the Minister of the Marine, Jean-Frédéric Phélypeaux, comte de Maurepas, who managed France’s colonies and navy.

The main ship harbour, protected by a chain during times of war
The quays are missing from the reconstruction

The Dauphin Gate as seen from the Glacis

Nature will always win out in the end

I was fascinated by the calcium deposits that were forming on the underside of the clay bricks

Barracks for the battery

Lartigue House as seen from the battlement wall
Can you believe that he lived here with his wife, twelve children, servants and slaves?

Keep up Ron! No time to smell the roses!

The King's Bastion

The Dauphin Gate and Louisbourg Harbour
as seen from the battlements of the Kings Bastion
We give you the impression that it is empty, although in previous visits it was far harder to get the same shots without tourists "ruining" my pictures. In fact, this weekend had seen the highest numbers in the park post COVID-19 response. You just can't tell because we really are that good. ;)

The Artillery Forge and storehouse off to the left.

Louisbourg selfie time!

She can't help but laugh at my funny face. 

This viewing post commands the two significant landward approaches of the bastion. 

I like how they lay claim to a French observatory and call it "Canada's" when Canada won't be a "thing" until Sir John A. MacDonald wrangles Confederation and creates the infant "Canada" as we know it over a hundred years later in 1867. Just my two cents. ;)

The barracks and chapel of the King's Bastion
Note the number of chimney's 
So if you look at the large number of chimneys, you will also have to appreciate the human effort involved in sourcing, cutting and transporting the wood that will keep the forges, bakeries and heating running all year round. Max told us that the area had been deforested out to about an eight kilometre range, which I found hard to believe, but I can certainly imagine the woods receding over the years and more and more of it was turned into fireplace fuel.

I had to wait forever until the entrance was devoid of tourists. lol.

Caroline was now the one in charge, and I felt she had been directing the show subtlety since after our "luncheon", and I will admit to a desire to get back on the bike and twist the throttle to move about instead of lifting one foot in front of the other. We also needed to meet up with JimmyA who had left Moncton early this morning and was going to camp with us at Meat Cove tonight. I'd told Caroline that we needed to leave Louisbourg at around 12 noon to have a comfortable ride out to meet up with JimmyA on time, and still be able to stop and get some photos at all the overlooks on the trail. I thought we were on our way back to the bikes now, and as it was 1230, no issues at all. However, Caroline is the first woman in my life who may love history even more than I do! We got waylaid by a Cannoneer Bombardier dressed in red who convinced her to climb the stairs into the barracks and see the exhibits! Well, my arm really didn't need that much of a twist, and I quite enjoyed traipsing along behind her, trying not to take too long with the pictures for fear she would get away from me.

A fragment of one of the bells of the chapel from the original fort

Can you imagine sleeping three to a bed here?!
If you were one of the 560 men of the garrison you were the lowest of the low, and largely a labour force as well as being poorly paid and fed. Their pay would in fact end up in the pockets of their company captain, and if he had an eye to profit, then he would purchase the cheapest foodstuffs to feed them. In fact, their treatment was so poor they staged a mutiny and refused to work and take up their duties in silent protest until their grievances were addressed in some measure by those in charge of the garrison. They negotiated a pardon for all involved as part of the deal, but as soon as the garrison was rotated back to France, the eight suspected ringleaders of the mutiny were executed. This is why labour unions were formed. Don't tell me they have no place in today's society, all you need to do is ask how much Jeff Bezos is worth, and what the yearly wage for a picker in his warehouse earns. Times have changed, but not as much as you expect.

Wikipedia has this to say about The Louisbourg Garrison

I believe the stoppered glass bottle contained mineral oil

have a look at an Opinel folding knife. Have they really changed all that much?

Note the wooden footwear. Waterproof. 

These items were excavated at the barracks themselves and represent the day to day artifacts of life for a soldier.

Caroline was quite taken with a pottery colander
Sometimes I find myself doing the same thing
"Wow! I had no idea they used them in 1730!"

COVID-19 Warrior
The red uniform denotes this re-enactor is a member of the elite Cannoneers here at the Fortress, and if memory serves, his rank is that of Bombardier, or Corporal. They are a select group of 60? who enjoy better rations and accommodations than that of the rank and file, and were reputed to smell better as they were more than mere labourers as many of them had studied the mathematics necessary for the art of ballistics and trajectory in order to serve their guns, and stood out for their ability to read and write. Often they would be the gun captain with a gun crew of the average soldiers.

The chapel of the Kings Bastion

Can you spot the tourists?
the front of the King's Bastion showing the bell and clock tower
Now when Caroline wanted to see the house of Michel de Gannes de Falaise (1702-1752), a Captain holding a commission in the colonial troops, she turned and asked me
"How much time have I got?"
"Four minutes!"
...was my firm reply, loud enough for the lady portraying a family servant at the door and also limiting the number of guests due to COVID-19 to hear me, and  I felt guilty and I tried to explain that we really were under the gun to meet a friend

Yeah, who can get there EXACTLY in 3.5 hours of riding?!
No one. 
...four hours ride away in Meat Cove, and that we would have to hurry now to be on time for Caroline to get her cup of chowder before the Chowder Hut closed at 1800. If we left now we might have twenty-six minutes to do neat things on the way, like stop for a real lunch at Lick A Chick or gasoline up in Ingonish.

I wanted to see the contents of the house as well, and the very first room we stepped into, there was a demonstration of Captain de Gannes wife working on a round of Bobbin Lace, something she might have learned as a young girl at the hands of the nuns in the nearby school, who also taught many other important skill of the day to the young ladies and children of the officers and civilians of the Fortress. Remember those 560 soldiers? There is a 5 to 1 ratio of men to women in this town, and I expect that was understated or miss remembered.

I've watched an edwardian documentary on bobbin lace, and even seen some here on Prince Edward Island courtesy of the Women's Institute  during Old Home Week. It truly does appear to be a painstaking pursuit.

They had set this up to have a traffic flow, in through the front door, and around the parlour then into the kitchen and out the kitchen door, but we found ourselves in the hot confines under the stairs waiting for an opportunity to advance forward into the kitchen, and I tried to knock it back but I really wanted to get out into an open space and rip of that mask!

I moved forward and excused myself and addressed the couple in front of us and asked if they minded if I could slip on by and out, when they excused themselves and departed. Not quite how I had imagined it, but now that I was in the larger room of the kitchen with space to swing a cat, curiosity won out over blind anxiety.

I enjoyed this ladies easy gift of gab. If you ask me, she and Max made our visit with their knowledge and affability. I asked one simple question as the family following us moved out from under the stairs and into the kitchen entrance to better hear her describe what the "Copper cup that looks like a mini butter churn" did.

She described it as a hot chocolate churn. You add water to the cup, then take a ball of chocolate seen in the foreground on the table and grate it into the churn, then gently heat it to warm, and churn the chocolate and warm water into an emulsion. She was clear to state you NEVER boiled the water as it would destroy the expensive chocolate and you could be beaten for it.

While she was showing us the chocolate churn, the lady we met at the front door could clearly be seen in the window gesturing at her watch wrist and showing four fingers to me. I could tell she was smiling even with the mask on! We both sheepishly thanks the actor and exited the building, where Caroline dithered as to use the washroom and I encouraged her as I felt that the facilities would be better kept here than a gas station washroom on the road north west.

While researching some of the site we encountered this repository of photos that are quite good. http://www.krausehouse.ca/krause/FortressOfLouisbourgResearchWeb/DPW/Fortress.htm

Our last sight of the King's Bastion from the parking lot
Caroline was laughing and when I asked her why, she pointed to this sticker on one of the trucks in the lot and I joined her.

If guns kill people then spoons must make people fat
I used to be a cadet, and was in the Militia for twelve years of service, so I know how to handle myself and my weapons. I am also a firm believer in stiffer penalties for repeat offenders, and especially for crimes involving a fire arm. I feel that we need to stop illegal weapons getting into the hands of gang members, but also not ban those kept by law abiding citizens. What Trudeau did was illegal and will not stand up to a challenge in Supreme Court, but somehow I doubt he will ever be held accountable. For any of his transgressions. YMMV. Sorry. Rant over

For those of you counting that last photo has a time stamp of 13:15, so not too terrible at the moment, but our window is shrinking and Caroline and I made the best time we could to our planned lunch stop, where she was determined she would get a drumstick from Lick A Treat, but was not terribly hungry as the cinnamon rolls had only been an hour or so ago. We arrived at the Lick A Chick diner in Bra d'Or an hour later and placed a small lunch order for two chicken burgers, a fried chicken thigh all by its lonesome, and the Drumstick for Caroline which they gave me while I went outside to wait for our number to be called. I was quite happy to assist Caroline eating the ice cream, and we had it reduced the volume of it by a good 2/3 by the time they called our order number. 

That is a drumstick! Not for the faint of heart!
She shared this with me. She loves me. :D
We retreated to the back of the lot and perched atop a rock to share our loot bag of warm chicken goodness. The chicken burgers are crispy coated chicken breasts served on fresh kaiser rolls with mayonnaise and lettuce, while that a part of that Lick A Chick crispy skin from the thigh became an offering of mine to my Caroline who appreciates the finer things in life as do I. Lol. Once that was all done it was back onto the bikes and time to top off our fuel as the distance to Ingonish was borderline reserve for Caroline's adventure Shadow. It was about 120 km to the Irving station in Antigonish, but now she could make it on one tank if required.

We've done this a couple of weeks ago, but coming from the opposite direction, and Caroline was quite happy as we crossed the bridge over Great Bra d'Or and approached Kellys Mountain ahead of us. 
"Do you know the song The Legend of Kelly's Mountain by McGinty? I used to hear it all the time on CBC radio, and here it is!""What the song?""No! The mountain!""You made a song about your mountain?""Never mind" 

Kellys Mountain lies ahead once we cross Great Bra D'Or
We climbed the mountain in silence after that, but later on I found this was the song that was running through her head...

This is where we took the ferry last go round. Skipping the ferry was the right choice
It was totally worth the extra twenty minutes!
It's about 1530 now and JimmyA has arrived at the campground and told us via text message that there are a lot more people here this weekend and we can either try for a last spot when we arrive or just share his site. We still have a ways to go, but we're making good time now, with very few cars in front of us, and not a single RV to be seen! The roads curve and lift then curve and fall, and the weather is perfect although we've primed ourselves to stop for a coffee at the Dancing Moose up in Wreck Cove not too far ahead now.

Sadly the Moose closes at 1600, as it's only open for breakfast and late lunch, so we missed that window by minutes and pulled in just up the trail to grab a coffee and a picnic table out front of Wreck Cove General Store, where I almost managed to leave my wallet behind once more. SOB. I have NEVER had this much trouble with wallets before I met Caroline. Maybe it's a sign that I shouldn't carry cash and ID?

Caroline and I have run the gravel on the Cabot Trail last weekend but climbing through it today, I found that a water truck, while reducing the dust for the motorists, was creating a bit of a mud slick up the hill, and right away I had to tone down my throttle control or lose control of the bike by fishtailing my way up the gravel. The camera went away, but I spied the water truck heading down the hill towards me, spraying fountains of water everywhere, and I was seriously wondering if I was going to be able to control my bike when hit with that deluge of water meant to keep the dust down, when at the last second, the driver cut the water, then turned it right back on again. He'd done it so quickly and was obviously well practised at it that I didn't even notice it other than I wasn't hit with water at all! Maybe a couple of drops but they just moved the dust around on my paint. I'd warned Caroline in exited tones what was coming, so now I hastened to reassure her that the guy wouldn't splash her off and over the edge. :)

It's under constriction, eh? 
There is a lady over in Maritime Motorcycles that apologized for recommending that riders should take advantage of the low traffic this year and get out on the Trail, in spite of the gravel. She'd had to hear so many comments and complaints about the gravel that she felt rather badly about, put down in point of fact. Let me be clear on this. I have not once ridden around the trails since my first time fourteen years ago, and NOT encountered construction and gravel sections. If you can't handle gravel, don't take it out on those who can, get your butt onto a dirt bike and learn how to ride! If its completely outside your comfort level, then you had best park the bike and buy something with three or more wheels. Seriously. Caroline loved the trail so much in spite of cursing at the gravel portions, she dragged me here to do it all again two weeks later! (I was a bit scared when we encountered the water truck)

Caroline may need to mute her mic in a few seconds as she hits the gravel
Climbing Cape Smokey
Cape Breton Island
We gassed up at the Irving in Antigonish and messaged JimmyA to let him know our ETA was now going to be well after 1700 now. 

There are so many beautiful sights along this side of the trail, but as we were running behind our goal was on making up time and not taking pictures, but we simply had to stop and get a few, right?  Were they worth it?
Black Brook Cove Beach
Ingonish NS

Looking towards Black Brook Cove Beach from the Cabot Trail
Ingonish NS

We arrived in Cape North in time for our "6 o'clock Charlie" and found a couple of tins of Strongbow Dry, and a tin or two of Ginger Beer mixed with Rum in a green can that I was interested in trying, and perhaps sharing with JimmyA and Caroline that evening. I was really struggling to carry all of the water, milk and tins to the cash at the Cabot Trail Food Market Ltd, and I realized I had not grabbed the chocolate bars for dessert yet, so I asked the gentleman waiting in line to precede me as I'd forgotten to grab the kit kat bars. He very kindly placed a double kit kat bar on the counter with my things and that random act of kindness sort of made my day. I was happy with all in the world as we passed the line of locals waiting to get into the store to do a bit of last minute Saturday night shopping, and I managed to stuff the bulk of the lot onto my bike, and Caroline and I jumped back onto the Trail and headed off down Bay Saint Lawrence Road that would put us onto to Meat Cove Road in a anther 15 kilometres.

It was beginning to look like we were going to be putting our rain gear on any minute now. The bright skies of earlier today were now clouded over, and we seemed to be riding north into a heavy fog bank that was just this side of being called rain.

The fog was so thick that water was collecting on our windscreens and trickling up and over onto our helmeted faces. It sure felt like rain at this point, but my jacket and knees were still dry! Carry on!

I must admit it was very nice to be cool again, but I was also a bit concerned that if a rain squall had come through here, what would the Meat Cove road be like?

The Aspy River at the foot of the Sugar Loaf Mountains
Cape Breton Island
Nova Scotia
Climbing the Meat Cove road near Capstick NS
Bay Saint Lawrence in the background

Right at @47.020327,-60.5279207 or 1174 Meat Cove Rd Cape North, NS B0C 1C0 the tarmac ends and you find yourself on a gravel road, but I'm told it was improved and there are the odd sections of pavement through what used to be the bad portions. Caroline can make this run on her Honda Shadow adventure bike, fully overloaded for touring, but she does it at a comfortable 2nd gear pace, and 1st gear as needed, nothing fast, which is a comfortable pace for me to take some pictures and videos as we roll along.

Caroline on the Meat Cove Road

Capstick NS on the Meat Cove Road

Meat Cove Campground straight ahead, but we will stick to the road, thanks. 
The skies got less and less foreboding the closer we got to the campground. It got positively sunny by the time we rolled in!

This is the last few minutes of our ride down the Meat Cove road and into the Campground proper where JimmyA is waiting for us with the campsite manager Justin. 

The campground itself is less than level, and as I shot the final few frames of the video, I pulled forward, up the hill, and did a u-turn to the left, which put all the weight of the bike onto the downhill side of a sloped turn, and I had to force myself to keep my eyes looking back at JimmyA  while adding throttle, and I have to admit to a bit of pride that I'd made them think that I'd done that corner with aplomb, as if I nearly tip over and ride it out every other day of the week. Jimmy had unhooked the rope that led to our campsite, and at his suggestion I left it parked about a hundred meters from our site, but with my kickstand on the gravel. It was still leaning pretty heavily when I heard Caroline say some blue words over the intercom, to find that she'd tried a similar turn and the bike had objected and rolled over to take a dirt nap on her. Thinking quickly, I grabbed my camera and tried to put my kickstand down at the same time, but Jimmy had beaten me to it, and in fact, by the time he had reached her, Caroline had already grabbed the bike in the approved back to the tank manner and was trying to right it when Jim arrived to lend her some muscle. Caroline was fine, and she'd reduced the sprung weight of the Adventure Shadow a bit, making it lighter and more nimble for the ride home by shedding her left hand mirror, but other than christening her top box with the first of what are sure to be many scratches, the bike was otherwise in great shape.

Squats for the win!
As it turns out, there'd been a couple of Harley's out this way earlier that we had passed on the way out through Cape North, and one of them had done the same thing, and later on, once we got settled, a couple of guys on Harley's came out to the Chowder Hut only to have one of them have a get off doing the same thing! So she's in good company today, and much better looking. :)

 I can't help but wonder what the technicians think of her bike at the stealership when she sends it in for service. Covered in dust as she leads me off the beaten path and into adventure after adventure. Quite frankly I'm worried that if she did get a real ADV bike, I'd be left behind. ;)

Our host, Jimmy refused to take our money for the campsite, and instead offered a beer immediately but I declined as I've learned the hard way to put the tent up before I start drinking...

Uh, yeah. 
Right that was done, and it was time to sit down, relax and listen to Jimmy's stories again. He's quite the character, and between us, there isn't a lot of silence especially when we got into the cider and the beer. Caroline joined us to share the cider and ginger beer, contributing her own wee flask of fireball to the party. All while  I tried to heat up some water for our supper of Ramen, snow peas, some garlic scapes and some of Uncle Carl and Aunt Mary's gift to the Kelly family, a tin of Costco chicken chunks put to good use in the stew pot. Mmmm!

Photo Credit: Caroline's Camera :)
We had quite a few neighbours, high and low around us, and the lady standing just in front of Jimmys 2019 Africa Twin in the photo above saw the flash go off, and kindly stood back while I got one more picture, then after I'd waved my thanks, she took off up the hill bounding in giant leaps as if straight out of a film about a nun and a Bavarian Sea Captain named Von Trapp, and I sang a brief little ditty in falsetto:
"The Hills are alive with the sound of music!"

Our hill was alive with the sound of laughter for a moment. 

She was there camping for the weekend with her two teenage daughters, and Jimmy had mentioned that they were having some trouble getting their fire going, so he'd assisted them with some of his liquid boy scout, but it was a touch and go thing as the wood was damp softwood. Later on I was to offer her my kudos as she had cooked all their meals over the campfire the entire weekend! I was pretty impressed with the old school when so many people run to Whisper Light this and Iso-butane that. (That just described Jimmy and I!!! Total pussies, but apparently we can talk the hind leg off a mule while in our cups!)

The Cove part, but still waiting for the "Meat"
Photo Credit: Caroline's Camera :)

We had more light this evening then on our last visit, and Jimmy offered up the theory that the sun was keeping the clouds lit while setting, making them glow like a giant lantern globe. Sounds good to me.
The neighbours to our left
We still can't see how two adults and a kid squeezed into that wee thing!
Photo Credit: Caroline's Camera :)

Last picture of the night, then is was stagger off down the hill to the washrooms. Luckily I had Caroline to light my way and hold my hand.

No, it's not the camera, it's the ground.
The campsite
Photo Credit: Caroline's Camera :)
Caroline joined me on a last trip down to use the facilities, then we trudged back on up the hill towards our tents:
"Are you okay, Ron?"




...breath back...
...won't be...
...a minute."
I couldn't see her grin in the dark, but I knew it was there. :D

Good night from Meat Cove. Sleep well while Caroline and I try not to roll down slope off of our air mattresses and out the tent door!

Day 3 - Meat Cove NS to Charlottetown PE - Drive 496 km, 7 hours, 43 minutes

Meat Cove NS to Charlottetown PE
We'd woken up early again, and I mean stoopid early once more. I briefly entertained the notion of staying out and watching the entire sunrise again, but I was tired, oh so tired and 0430 in the morning is too early for anyone, and I crawled back into the tent with Caroline and tried to snooze a wee bit more, but an hour later, we decided to give it up and grab our shower things, so by quarter of five we were both freshly showered and in clean clothes. Caroline to move to the smaller Lynx 2 tent, put her ear plugs in an go back to sleep, while for me it was time to snap a few early morning pictures, then focus on making some tea and instant oatmeal. 

Sunrise over Meat Cove Campground NS
I must have woken Jimmy up, as he joined me, collected up the recycling from last night and trudged off down the hill while I got my cuppa brewed up.

 I'm in a bit of a love affair with Jimmy's new ride, although there is no way I can afford it at the moment, and I'd sort of enjoy the older red and black colour scheme. He's got the DCT model that my friend, Warren Milner is so enamoured of, and Warren can back up his love affair with some good stories as he and a friend rode a pair of ATs out to Alaska a couple of years ago, one with DCT and one without. He credits the DCT with avoiding a getoff that his partner experienced in a bad washout when he made a gaff with his clutch as he tried to loft his front tire over the rut. It sounds better when Warren tells it. Jimmy was really happy with it, but not so much the tubed tires again as he much rather have some decent speed rated tubeless on the rims. Sorry Jimmy, it's a compromise, like all those bikes. One of the reasons why Jimmy and I get along so well is we are both ex-KLR riders. :)

Our gear was never this new looking!
And my stuff said "Rubbermaid" or "Property of Sealtest Dairies Ltd" 

2019 Africa Twin by early morning light
Jimmy hauled out his well loved MSR Dragonfly, but was having some issues keeping it going, and admitted to having problems yesterday evening before we'd arrived, and he'd eaten his supper cold, but said that was okay as his beer had been warm. Jim runs it on gasoline, and it would do a preheat cycle for him, and run for a bit, then just fade out to nothing. He fiddled with it while I put another pot of water on for his coffee and a second cuppa tea for me. I'd brought two tins of butane with me this trip, the left over from last adventure on the Trail that still had enough for Caroline and I to cook a few meals more on it, before it gave up the ghost that morning and I was able to puncture it and make it safe for recycling. The new can had our water at full boil a short time later, in spite of the brisk wind that required the windscreen.

Cook something on it! Hurry!

Jimmy's breakfast was coffee made in his GSI Commuter Coffee press, and once we'd both had a second cup, he began to put away his gear, so I joined in and squared away a bit of my own, as Caroline was still asleep, and I'd nothing else to do other than look at Jimmy's ugly (tin) mug.

It's a versatile setup and I can boil up a cuppa tea in no time! 
0730 rolled around, and Jimmy's bike was packed, and he had that "Gotta Go!" manic look to him. I know the feeling well. Caroline was still abed, and I was sorry that she would miss saying fare well to him but feared for my life should I wake her while she was in hibernation. :P Nah, she really needs to get her eight hours or we both suffer later on. I know I won't be good for much after the sun sets myself as I've only about five and half hours under my belt at the moment.

Work it Jim!
He shrugged off my final offer of paying half of the campsite, and while I reattached the rope to keep him from coming back, he donned his helmet and gloves and gave me a final wave before riding off back towards the trail and his Moncton home.

Cheers Jim! And I'll pass along your goodbyes to Caroline as long as you say hi to Molly for me!

And he's off!
I've got my gear squared away, and began to load it up on the bike now, and Caroline joined me for her morning cup of coffee expressing her regrets that she'd missed Jimmy before he headed out.

Scotch Thistle in the highlands of Cape Breton
The negihbours were waking up and packing up themselves, and a few of the cars had already departed south back towards the trail this morning.

The tents are down and away. 
Caroline and I did a last walk thru of our campsite, then returned to the bikes to address the issue of her broken left mirror.

It wasn't going to play nice, and as determined as Caroline was, the chromed tin of the mirror just didn't want to slide over the weird spring loaded end of the support, and only a fist full of duct tape would have solved that problem, but incidentally rendering the mirror absolutely friggin useless!

Sigh. I really need dual sport mirrors!
We hit the road around the 0930 mark, and set a leisurely pace along the road heading out, and I took advantage to get some more video of Caroline on the Meat Cove road heading back towards Saint Margaret Village to the south east of us.

Sorry for the wind noise. I'd love to learn how to replace the entire audio track at some point.

Once out of Cape North and back onto the Cabot trail heading south, you run through the Big Intervale and enter the Cape Breton Highlands National Park again, passing the cottage of the Lone Shieling along what I believe is the Aspy Fault, a pass that the road follows over to Pleasant Bay on the West side of Cape Breton Island.

Whoot! These roads are awesome!
Check out the wave! 

Cabot Trail selfie with my honey!

I took a bit of video once we crested this pass and started the downhill run that would take us into Pleasant Bay.

We'd already stopped on the way North a couple of weeks ago and taken a number of pictures of Fishing Cove and Pleasant Bay, and opted to just focus on the riding and I must admit that I was putting my new Shinko Raven 009s to the test as I rode up through the hairpins, doing my best to grind a peg, but I just didn't have the speed to need those lean angles. Hahaha. Still, it was hot and Caroline and I had some really good grip, her problem being NOT grinding her pegs on every corner!

There is more traffic this holiday weekend
The traffic this holiday long weekend was quite a bit more than we's seen last trip, and as we neared Cheticamp, we saw more and more oncoming vehicles. Again nothing like the volume of previous years, but it was there.

Before long we had found ourselves caught behind a slower moving Honda CRV that had other ideas about how quickly they wanted to ride the trail, and when we finally hit the gravel of French Mountain just north of Cheticamp is was considerably easier going as much of that built up gravel that had us sliding around a bit had given way to bare tracks that made it much easier for Caroline and I to descend the road from the heights down to sea level where we would leave the construction zone as we neared Petit Etang.

There are only a few kilometres of gravel,
but sadly on my favourite bits!

Google maps shows the red bits as road construction, but I feel that those bits are the gravel stretches themselves, and you will be riding for some time before you finally clear it all and leave it behind.

It's still well worth the ride, I've seen this view before, but then I was on tarmac. lol.

Looking south from French Mountain towards Petit Etang NS
Hah! That CRV had pulled off and we could pick up the pace a touch

We'd hit the back end of a conga line of cars following the ubiquitous truck and camper struggling round the bends and up the hills. I told Caroline that we got lucky this year, and I've spend much of the best parts of these roads following someone slower than I am. Fortunate indeed.

You think you are really hard core braving the elements while straddling a tank flammable liquid that is exploding between your legs to keep that 400 plus pound beauty rolling along, that is, until you see the cyclists out on the trail.

Need a lift? 
It was hot now as we rolled into Cheticamp, and I was running low on fuel, sugar that is, as I'd eaten my instant oatmeal 

That spells the end of our fun. :'(
We pulled out from behind the line of cars and into the parking lot of Robin's Donuts in Cheticamp, as it was just after 1100 and I was in need of a coffee and some fuel for my body, so we sat in the sun while eating some breakfast sandwiches and drinking our coffee, but Caroline's Ultimate sandwich was missing Connie's touch, as back home at our Robin's in Stratford that we visit for lunch once in a while, Connie keeps a wee bottle of Tabasco sauce just for customers like Caroline. "It's not the same." Mine was okay, but I had to agree that Connie did it better, and I was missing it as well. Buttered and dark toasted bagel with the donair meat heated up well before being served.

Both of us had been this way so we were back tracking and I'd given Caroline the choice of where she wanted to head from here, and she opted for riding through Margaree and into Baddeck on the 105 to our east. It looked like fun, so it was time to clean up and get rolling again, but donning that hot leather again... Oh my. It was warm and both of us were using sunscreen on our necks and ears to prevent burns, wishing oh wishing that we'd worn our mesh jackets this weekend instead of the leather. **Sigh

I like the way she thinks!
This was the new plan, and we should hit Port Hawkesbury later in the afternoon and perhaps camp in Linwood at the Hyclass campground again, a repeat of last trip, it was that nice of a campground.

There was more traffic through Margaree, but as we were in for the long haul we took our time and passed them when it was safe to do so, and found ourselves riding the 105 south towards Aberdeen along the shore of Lake Bra d'Or.

Somewhere on the 105 near Aberdeen NS

We made the turn off the 105 onto Orangedale Road that would take us into... Yeah...

They didn't mention the five kilometres of gravel
between Orangedale and Marble Mountain, Lol
It was a fun little ride, not quite the "Bra d'Or Scenic Drive" that Tourism Nova Scotia would lead you to believe, or at least in the Orangedale to Marble Mountain stretch.

Accommodations Nova Scotia has some interesting information on the trails that I found while researching this.

This bridge with it's gravel and wooden decking a poor state of repair should have warned us, but Caroline and I really do enjoy getting off the beaten path, or beating ourselves later on wondering why oh why did we ever leave the path?!. I think it was a bit of both with this diversion. 

The Orangedale road leads to the Kwik Way here, and I needed to stop and see if I could find a map of Nova Scotia for future trip planning, and to ask how we got to Marble Mountain from here? I also wanted some more water to share with Caroline as my Cambelback was near empty, and they had a bottle of lime "fizzy" water that looked good, as well as some pizza combos! Sweet!

While sharing the water with Caroline, a couple of locals pulled up for some fuel and some groceries, but one of the guys had forgotten the new "Masks while indoors", and thinking quickly, he pulled off his shirt and tied it into a rough bandana around his face then headed in to pay for the gas. I had to doubletake as he looked just like he was going to rob the place for a second until my higher thinking kicked in and I recalled the new COVID-19 rules. Hahaha! Lucky for him we were in the middle of BFN and there was no cell signal. :P

Here be dragons.
We were clearly from "Away", but they gave us directions, and anther gentleman in the parking lot confirmed that we had a long stretch of gravel to ride, but the road was otherwise in good shape. (We should have turned around and headed right back out to the highway with our tails between our legs!)

Hot. Wow. I tried riding with my jacket fully unzipped to flow more air, but the darn thing was flapping and hitting my body kinda hard. Durn it! I was drinking more of that fizzy water then Caroline.

What can I say? After riding through the gravel we rode along some infrequently used interior roads that were very pretty, and we quite enjoyed the ride now, that is until we hit the southern leg of the road, from Malagawatch south as far as West Bay, a torurous stretch of patched and bumpy pavement where the province pretty much stuck a sign exonerating and declaring "Bumpy road for 21km" Seriously. We rode that avoiding pot holes, and dips, patches etc weaving our way south in the ever present heat. Honestly I'd do it again, but I'd really prefer a Dual Sport with a decent suspension to do it. Caroline on the Shadow was "oomph"ing away like a champ! Not that the bumps were of themselves horrible and huge, quite the opposite. They were all chained together. Little kidney shots that I call "How's your Mother?" as a repeated almost rhythmic assault on your kidneys, lower back and now sore butt cheeks. Still, it was pretty when we saw the lake through the trees, and if I hadn't been so uncomfortably hot, I would have enjoyed it that much more.

Ooof! Umph! Ouch! 
That dumped us out onto Highway 4 and we rode into Port Hakesbury for our final fuel before Pictou NS and the Caribou ferry terminal as we had decided that we just didn't want to ride in our leather for another day, after a muggy night in a hotter than blazes tent. Hyclass is a great spot, but we couldn't think of any spots they might offer in the shade, and the thought of sitting at home with our feet up while the AC struggled to cool us off was very appealing, and Caroline wanted to study for test she had early Tuesday morning.

We hit the highway rumbling and grumbling about the slow pace, and passed and passed  slower cars until we finally reached the divided highway that allowed us to ride at our own pace.

We pulled off the highway at the roundabout in Pictou NS as any islander will know there is no fuel from Wood Islands until you hit Cooper's Shell at Halliday Road, 25 km down the road, and Caroline nor I felt certain it would be open this Sunday evening of the holiday long weekend. best not take any chances.

This gentleman only recently purchased this Austin Healey 
This was a new purchase for him, and I'm sure I won't be the last to take pictures of it! :)

Well, dash down to the ferry and wait in line for a while in the hot sun. Caroline had bought a chocolate bar to share with me on the ferry, and I'd picked up some more water to refill the Camelback, and some brown sugar fudge for her, as I know she quite enjoys it. Caroline went to pull out the chocolate bar, and found it was now a limp bag and the chocolate was almost a liquid but not quite so now was my chance to impress her! I quickly offered up the fudge, and was rewarded with a smile. I suggested we strap our jackets onto the bikes and go sit in the shade of the gazebo, and we happily chatted away until the ferry pulled in and disembarked it's vehicles and passengers.

Whoot! Motorcycles rock, no reservations and they squeeze us in anywhere! 
Wouldn't you know it?! Caroline was so tired she left the fudge out in the sun, and it was now limp too, so she handed it back to me, to the accompaniment of my laughter.

We rolled onto the ferry and strapped the bikes down, then climbed the steep stairs up into the air.

"Hey! How would you like to just sit on the deck here in the shade instead of sitting out in that hot sun back there?"
"Shade sounds wonderful. Sure!"

And so it was we found ourselves sitting on the deck of the Confederation as it steamed out of Caribou and on across the strait to the Wood Islands, but not before Caroline had completed the "Self Declaration" form that would get us our "bypass the waiting line" Yellow slips.Good for not waiting in the hot afternoon sun while the cagers run their A/C. I got volunteered to go stand in line where I found out from the young lad at the desk that we need not have filled out the Self Dec's as all we needed to do was show ID that we were both residents. So all I needed was Caroline's plate number and we were golden! I felt a bit like Charlie with his Golden Ticket... :D

I can hardly believe it!

Shade and comfort. Maybe the picnic blanket next time?
Caroline can lie down and nap on her bike. I'm just a bit envious. (LOTS!!!)

And the rest of the story? We jumped off the ferry, used our Golden Tickets to great effect, and flew down the highway into C-Town where we blew each other a kiss and dashed off to unload the bikes and finally relax for the night. Whoot!

I had a blast as had Caroline, and we are already planning the next adventure!


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